For the fourth festive season running, pantomime is back at the home of variety at the world famous London Palladium and this year, the circus has come to town. Goldilocks and the Three Bears comes to the stage overflowing with big name celebrities, circus stunts and a lot of glitter. And whilst it’s spectacular, over the top and ridiculously funny, it isn’t the one thing that it claims to be. A pantomime.
This is big, bold and beautiful, but this is not a pantomime.
Much like previous years at the palladium, this pantomime assembles a stellar star cast including Julian Clary, Paul O’Grady, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmott and Matt Baker. You can’t fault the performances with Clary as the ringmaster and O’Grady as villain Baron Von Savage bouncing off of each other and delighting in a huge use of innuendo which had the audience laughing every minute. Every year Clary manages to push it a little bit further with his naughty jokes and dodgy lines that float over the kids heads yet make the adults fall about laughing, and even make them blush.
Even with her name in the title, the character that you actually see the least of is Goldilocks. Stage favourite Sophie Isaacs delights in the much loved role, even though I feel that she was capable of much more. She may be featured in a couple of the musical numbers but other than that, she’s left to do nothing more than introduce the acts. Her scenes with Popular tv presenter Matt Baker are charming, but I still feel that more could have been done with her character. Baker impressed with his boundless energy and tricks, delighting the audience throughout.
Gary Wilmott once again steals the show with his now famous patter songs, listing off show tune after show tune with apparent ease and impressing with his comedic skills alongside Clary and O’Grady. Lauren Stroud proved popular with the audience for her performance as the tap dancing baby bear, sweet and cheerful and stand outs in the talented ensemble included Justin Thomas and Alexanda O’Rielly.
Every year the London Palladium panto is a spectacle, even if I see it more as a variety show based slightly on a fairy tale. It bulks out a very weak plot with huge props, massive costumes, glitter and specialist acts. This years acts included roller skaters, a giant elephant puppet and four motor bikers in a globe of death. Songs with recognisable tunes but changed words won’t stick in your head but they will make you smile. If you want a traditional panto, then maybe stick to regional theatres but you want to be entertained and amazed, then maybe the Palladium is the place for you this festive season. Entertainment doesn’t really come any bigger than this.
The pantomimes that are performed up and down the country every Christmas tend to be princess stories or fairy tales but instead the palladium brings Goldilocks to life as a multi ring circus extravaganza complete with acrobats, roller skaters, motor bikes and a tightrope walker. It had all of this, but it did not have a single element that you would associate with a classic pantomime. There was no ‘he’s behind you’ moment, no children joining in for a sing song, and no songs that would be stuck in your head for hours. Goldilocks is a show that will make you laugh until your sides hurt but there’s no joining in and singing along required.